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Yoga Dos and Don'ts: Elbow Alert

Hyperextended joints can be a sign of false strength says writer and yoga teacher Shannon Wianecki.

Practice

Photo Credit: Thomas Kachadurian

In one of my first yoga classes, my teacher pointed to my elbows. A quick glance in the mirror revealed that my arms were bent at a most unnatural angle—almost backward—in many poses. I discovered that I habitually hyperextended my elbows, forcing the joints to take the strain, rather than the muscles.I don’t know when I developed this habit, but I certainly intensified it while waitressing after college. I was determined to be every inch as tough as the male waiters who hoisted huge trays loaded with dishes onto their shoulders. Problem was, I didn’t have the upper-body strength to back up my bravado. The only way I could carry the trays was to lock my elbow joint, wedging bone against bone, so my arm wouldn’t collapse. I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. And it’s likely the many yoga students I see today don’t know they’re doing it, either.Hyperextension of joints is chronic in the yoga world. It is common to see models and even teachers demonstrate a beautiful ustrasana (camel pose)—with backward elbows.When I began practicing yoga, I was already experiencing chronic pain in my wrists beca …

This entry is tagged with:
HealthYogaJointsExerciseAlignmentInjury

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